AuthorTopic: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?  (Read 367 times)

Offline jcongerkallas1

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Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

on: February 24, 2017, 04:53:12 am
I've attempted to join several collaboration projects over the past few years, and each one has failed dismally.  Usually things fall apart after a few months due to busy schedules, overly ambitious goals, or lack of funding.

I know that a lot of other independent developers and artists go through similar experiences of having interesting concepts that are never fully realized.

Are there any special conditions or factors that increase the likelihood of having a positive team experience?

It just seems kind of impossible to stay optimistic when you can't afford to hire anyone and past baggage makes it hard to be motivated about jumping back into another cycle of disappointment and long work hours.

Offline eishiya

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Re: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

Reply #1 on: February 24, 2017, 05:42:27 am
Nothing works as well as paying everyone for their work, or doing it yourself.

If that's not an option, then design the projects around the pitfalls of not being able to pay people:
- Keep the projects small, so that even a small contribution is a significant step towards finishing, and so that the project can get done before people get bored.
- Keep the design, art style, writing, coding, and everything else simple. This increases the likelihood that someone just dropping in to help can finish everything, and it makes it easier for multiple people to work on the same task seamlessly in case you need to replace someone who dropped out.
- Use a common engine, and employ other commonly-used tools. Ask for assets in common formats and sizes. No one wants to spend time catering their workflow to unique demands.
- Design for familiarity. Save the really novel ideas for when you can afford to get them done right. There's no shame in it! Use familiar genres and styles so that your project is easier to explain (the less you're paying, the less people are willing to read), and so that you're more likely to come across people who've been curious to try their hand at [whatever]. Plus, this'll make it easier to find free pre-made art you can use. Be prepared to use stock art, sounds, and code at least temporarily, but also likely in the final version.

In addition:
- Do as much of the project as you can by yourself. Don't be afraid to try learning new skills, even if you can't master them. Plus, the closer a project is to completion, the easier it is to find people willing to stick with it without payment.
- Use placeholder assets from sites like OpenGameArt for anything that isn't already done, even if it's not a perfect fit. It's much more encouraging to see a playable game with a list of assets that could use replacements than something that's a nebulous collection of partially done art and systems that don't add up to a game.
- Break down all the work into tiny, manageable tasks that are clearly described somewhere public. Instead of "graphics", have a task for each individual animation, each set of related background objects, each set of tiles, each sound effect, etc. Do this even for the tasks you intend to do yourself. This way anyone can drop in and contribute, and everyone is easy to credit because each task will have one person who did it. In addition, writing everything out like this makes it easier to see when your project is getting too big, and can help you find things you can cut. If you do revenue sharing, this task list can also make it easy to distribute the pay, since you can treat the tasks as equal and easily see how much work each contributor did.
- Remember that while money is the simplest method, it's not the only way to pay someone. Trade your skills for the skills of others. If you're an artist who wants a programmer, then find a programmer who needs an unpaid artist for a game of their own, and do art for them in exchange for coding on your project. Design some logos and t-shirts for a musician in exchange for music. It can be hard to arrange trades like this since it's not common for both people to need each other's skills and styles, but don't discount the possibility.
- Whenever possible, help with someone else's project instead of starting up your own. That way there'll be someone else driven by passion, someone you can rely on more to not quit easily, and you'll likely build up good will with them.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 05:44:21 am by eishiya »

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

Reply #2 on: February 24, 2017, 10:31:54 am
In addition to the above, draw up a contract as soon as possible to make sure everyone is on the same page with art asset rights, royalties, and of course the all-important payment process.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

Reply #3 on: February 24, 2017, 02:24:09 pm
Forgot to specify this in my previous post, but might've been evident from what I wrote above.
(Meant this as an edit to the previous post, accidentally clicked Quote instead of Modify)

Adopt a "drop-in, drop-out" structure instead of expecting people to stick around. Make it easy for anyone who wants to to contribute something without having to catch them up. A public task list is a great way to do this. You can also post examples of current assets to make it easier for people to stay stylistically consistent. This sort of structure applies to the coding side too. Instead of looking for "programming", have tasks for things like "Unity C# script to draw falling snow using sprites from a directory, with the directory, snow density, speed, and (optionally) wind set as parameters", something anyone can write with minimal knowledge of the rest of the project, something they might possible have from another project. If it's detailed enough, a person won't even need to contact you first, then can just post the result if they feel like doing it. This means even shy people might contribute.

Offline jcongerkallas1

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Re: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

Reply #4 on: February 24, 2017, 06:24:44 pm
Thanks guys for taking the time to answer again. 

Iíve encountered pretty much everything mentioned above as a contributing factor in failed projects, but the thing that Iíve noticed always seems to backfire worst for projects is communication.  Everyone Iíve worked with so far has put a lot of effort into organization, planning, and even social media and crowdfunding campaigns, but they werenít able to communicate well with team members. 

It seems like a lot of people who do succeed in completing large projects have these close friendships where everyone has eachother's backs, or they all are interested in contributing to making the best product possible.  Thatís just something I seem to have missed out on so far.  If thereís not a lot of engagement or fun in a collaboration, it just feels like forced work.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2017, 01:04:15 am by jcongerkallas1 »

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Re: Any Tips for Starting a Team Project?

Reply #5 on: February 25, 2017, 10:22:14 am
Join a team project that has already existed for a while, so you know they're likely to continue!
Like.. Join us, the OPP! We've been going since 2013 :p
Come check out the OpenPixelProject!